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Thread: Minimum Font Height

  1. #1
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    Minimum Font Height

    From a practical standpoint, what is the minimum font height to plan for when cutting a plaque?

    The reason for my question is that I've done a couple of tests for a plaque I want to make. I used a 60 v-bit in mdf. It looks OK but I'm trying to envision how well it might cut using vinyl masking over hardwood.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
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  2. #2
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    I think the short answer is: That depends!

    Let's assume you have a super perfectly sharp point on your v-bit - in theory, your smallest size will mostly depend on how well your material holds up (do the insides of P or O or A stay together?) -- so it still depends ...

    In MDF, with a 60 degree cutter, assuming it has a really good sharp point (not all of 'em do!) and can cut a fine line, then you could get pretty small ... 1/4" tall letters aren't out of the question. You may be able to push it smaller with some kind of pre-treatment to harden up the surface of the material (like wood hardener, CA or even a few coats of finish like poly or shellac soaked in).

    To a lesser extent, your machine may influence this, too - if you have a little backlash, it can become more apparent when trying to make a line of small text because some slight variations might make the baseline a little wiggly.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Beam View Post
    I think the short answer is: That depends! ...
    Exactly what I expected. Interesting that you mentioned 1/4" tall letters because that's what I've got so far. One part of the item I'm laying out will have to be etched because it's a line drawing that looks like garbage when done with a V-bit. I'm thinking that my next test will be to do the text with an etching bit but go deeper than on the line drawing. As you can tell, I'm still experimenting!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    As you can tell, I'm still experimenting!


    That's how we learn! I'm interested to see what you discover. I've been contemplating some letters in aluminum, but I'd like to go smaller than 1/4" - maybe 3/16 or so. The V-bit i tried the last time did okay, but the part wasn't sitting very flat, so that had a lot of influence on how well the letters came out. I need a better fixturing solution or one of those spring loaded engraving type bits, I think.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Beam View Post
    ... I need a better fixturing solution or one of those spring loaded engraving type bits, I think.
    Yep, same here. My gantry is "level", base is "level", workpiece is "level". There are still very small variations and 0.5mm makes a big difference in an engraving and some v-bit work. I think my solution will be placing a new mdf base board and using a spoilboard surfacing bit to flatten it. I should be able to get a piece of wood flat before placing it on the machine!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    Yep, same here. My gantry is "level", base is "level", workpiece is "level". There are still very small variations and 0.5mm makes a big difference in an engraving and some v-bit work. I think my solution will be placing a new mdf base board and using a spoilboard surfacing bit to flatten it. I should be able to get a piece of wood flat before placing it on the machine!


    I've had a very similar struggle. Lately, the task has been to do the inlay for the headstock plate of my guitar build. It's 1/8" thick ebony, which isn't too bad since it just gets v-carved - as long as I can hold it flat, that does okay. The tricky part is doing the reverse on the inlay material - picture a male version of a v-carving (called v-inlay) - basically it's cutting with the same bit, a part that fits perfectly into a v-carved "pocket" to fill it perfectly with sharp corners and all that. CHALLENGING because the material I'm cutting that out of is 1/16" thick pearloid - floppy, and double stick tape just don't get it done (especially considering you have to peel this super thin onion-skin off the tape without ripping it apart).

    This had me experimenting with a vacuum clamp of some kind so that I could hold that super thin stuff and cut ALMOST through it without destroying it. Very light cuts, lots of trials. Most surprisingly, it's working! I will be taking a look at the "for real" inlay tonight when i get home -- it went into the clamps last night and so I will get a look at whether I was successful or not. Sure hope so - that ebony is nice!
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  7. #7
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    I have the equipment and materials to try vacuum clamping on my cnc but haven't tried it yet. My concern is the gasket material being even a tiny bit inconsistent. I'll have a go at it sometime, though.

    As to some of the stuff you're doing - I need a LOT more practice!!!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    I have the equipment and materials to try vacuum clamping on my cnc but haven't tried it yet. My concern is the gasket material being even a tiny bit inconsistent. I'll have a go at it sometime, though.

    As to some of the stuff you're doing - I need a LOT more practice!!!
    LOL - that's how I got to this point ... practice, and listening to (and often going against) leo :P

    So far, about the only stuff I've got that works semi-okay is 1/8" thick neoprene. It's closed cell, squishy, and pretty dang consistent thickness and uniform density. Problem is it's just barely grippy enough for my liking - with 25" of vacuum, i can't slide stuff around real easy, but i can pop it up without much trouble at all - no up-cut spirals with this stuff. There'll be at least one video on this subject coming soon
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  9. #9
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    Yep, I've got all kinds of ideas about things to try on this doo-dad - inlay, etc. With planning, I can see cutting intarsia components. And, then, I have the LOML factor, like, "When are you going to finish the trim around the guest room closet?"
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  10. #10
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    I have cut several lines of clear and concise text into a space 1" x 2"

    When I get home later, I will try to remember to post pics and some strategies.

    How small are you talking?

    Ohhh - and it depends.

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